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"Bishop Controversy" Topic

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1,232 hits since 2 Jun 2016
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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B6GOBOS Inactive Member02 Jun 2016 4:04 p.m. PST

On this day, no comments about Billy Bishop's one man raid? Just curious what you think. Did he or not?
(Tried posting this earlier but failed due to the bug. So apology if this comes through twice).

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member02 Jun 2016 4:34 p.m. PST

Serious doubts for me. Certainly no way he should've gotten the award for it….

idontbelieveit02 Jun 2016 5:54 p.m. PST

The Bishop!

YouTube link

Great War Ace Inactive Member02 Jun 2016 9:15 p.m. PST

The Bug hates the topic of Billy Bishop. That much seems self evident.

Bishop did a raid. He shot up some planes on the ground. The field was evidently a temporary one as a squadron was moving. That German records don't directly support this is not a problem, since not everything going on was recorded or has surviving records.

He did not stop and shoot up his own tail! Bishop was a braggart and unlikeable. But he was not a fake. He may have exaggerated, and allowed exaggeration to his report and subsequent story. That doesn't mean it didn't happen.

jowady03 Jun 2016 6:25 a.m. PST

There was/is no confirmation. It's easy to say that the fact that there is nothing to confirm it in the records is okay because not everything is recorded. The Germans kept meticulous records, Bishop just happens to be the beneficiary of one of the few times they don't happen to record a mini-disaster? No one in the German Air Service wonders why a unit suddenly has to draw more aircraft to replace the ones Bishop "shot up"? Bishop lied about his record before and I think he lied about this. No Germans recorded, mentioned, wrote home, gossiped or groused about it? No Germans said, "yes we were attacked but we damaged the plane and drove it off"? No one on the German side was in trouble for letting it happen? It's all way too convenient. You don't have to prove it didn't happen, someone has to prove that it did.

Great War Ace Inactive Member03 Jun 2016 7:30 a.m. PST

Comparisons of Bishop's actual confirmations to kill rate with other aces is not in a class by itself. His "lies" originate from the top, like Ball's and Mannock's. Or any other ace's whose career is being manipulated for propaganda. Bishop played along. There is no doubt that he could shoot well and kill enemy aircraft. All of the aces' kill scores are problematic, even the German, because of the Medía involvement. Picking on Bishop because he was more flamboyant and bigger than most as a personality has resulted in the bigger target taking more hits.

Your suppositions on why there should be evidence results in the same argument back at you: Find the pilots who could have possibly been involved, and find their letters home, anything at all, journals/diaries, anything written at all. If you can find written material originating from any Germans in the area proposed at the time, and there isn't a thing about "the raid", then you've got an argument. But asserting that someone should have said "we were attacked" and that such should be extant a hundred years later is not going to deflate Bishop's and the high command claim. As there is no evidence for or against "the raid", and as Bishop was a highly decorated, high scoring ace, and as such individuals tend to be taken at face value both at the time and since, we will continue to take sides based on what we feel for this ace or that one.

Bishop was a pugnacious little Bleeped text Even the Germans admired him, and allowed him into their "old fliers club" (whatever it was called). As has been pointed out before, if his enemies admired him enough to accept him into their club, his reputation postwar was hardly as controversial as it became generations later….

deephorse03 Jun 2016 9:01 a.m. PST

And I clicked on a thread entitled SdKfz 233! The bug gets worse.

jowady03 Jun 2016 9:25 a.m. PST

Again it is not up to me to prove that it didn't happen, it is up to those who claim that it did to prove that it did including Bishop. The idea that because there is no evidence it is likely to have happened is ridiculous. Once again the Germans were (and are) meticulous record keepers yet somehow they chose to avoid and record of this? I'm sorry, I don't take "claims" by individuals at "face value" when those claims lack ANY evidence to back them up.

In the years following the events numerous historians have looked for the evidence. The general historical rules of evidence are that you need three sources. For Bishop we have one, Bishop's. Since he is the beneficiary of what happened that makes him extremely suspect. Other than Bishop's no evidence exists. You say that throws it in my face?

In my day I have done my fair share of Historical Research. Simply put none of what you have listed would stand in any undergraduate paper as fact. He was accepted by the Germans? But did any of them say that it happened? I sincerely doubt that Bishop would have received the Victoria Cross today on such flimsy evidence.

Norman D Landings Inactive Member03 Jun 2016 12:33 p.m. PST

Can it really be said to be a 'controversy' any more, when general consensus has long been that the affair was exaggerated, and the only difference of opinion is in the extent of said exaggeration?

(Edited for chimp spelling!)

Great War Ace Inactive Member04 Jun 2016 6:39 a.m. PST

Propaganda is the art of applied exaggeration. Everyone does it. Bishop was a propaganda darling by June of 1917. His rate of kills to German "confirmation" isn't out of line with other great aces. The concentration on Bishop began with that 80's "docu-drama". You want German evidence to back Bishop before believing him. His own mechanic swore the damage to Bishop's Nieuport was genuine. German records do not mirror losses, for propaganda reasons. A raid such as Bishop claimed took place would be a good case for "losing" the report.

"Let's do this again" next year. :)

Great War Ace Inactive Member02 Jun 2017 8:05 a.m. PST

One Hundred Years Ago, Today …

Sailor Steve06 Jun 2017 1:58 a.m. PST

I've been contributing to a '100 Years' thread on another forum, and I've run into a similar problem with British claims, mainly whether five or six claims by British pilots from a single action were actually five different shoot-downs or one shared kill. The problem is that often shared kills are mentioned, but that leaves a suspiciously large number of claims left over.

The other problem is that, yes, the Germans were very careful in how they recorded things, being even more so when it came to verifying kills, writing down the enemy serial number and the airmen's fates, whereas the British seem to be happy that a claim was made at all.

There is another hand, though. The Germans almost never seemed to record what plane they were flying, except for a few cases, at least that I could find. Also, when looking at records of "losses", they seem to not record a lot of those, unless the pilot was injured or killed. If he landed (or crashed) safely, the loss of the plane seems not to have been mentioned.

Or maybe I'm just reading the wrong books.

All that said, I tend to be skeptical as well of claims that aren't solidly verified.

Hussar123 Inactive Member06 Jun 2017 6:09 a.m. PST

Very well written "Great War Ace". I agree. It was important that the masses had a hero. The bigger the better.

Warspite108 Jun 2017 3:14 a.m. PST

I have looked at the Bishop material several times and with differing opinions. The best I can come up with is that there appears to have been over claiming at some level (either by him or higher authorities) and some of his claims certainly do not stand up.

Is he guilty of outright fraud? I prefer to opt for the 'Scottish verdict'. Scotland is unique in having three possible court verdicts. Guilty, not guilty or 'not proven'. This last is perhaps the worst as it implies that the accused has done something wrong but the prosecution has failed to convince the jury of outright guilt.

My verdict on Billy Bishop is: "not proven".



"The result is the modern perception that the "not proven" verdict is an acquittal used when the judge or jury does not have enough evidence to convict but is not sufficiently convinced of the accused person's innocence to bring in a "not guilty" verdict. Essentially, the judge or jury is unconvinced that the suspect is innocent, but has insufficient evidence to the contrary." (see link)

Blutarski08 Jun 2017 1:59 p.m. PST

IIRC, the RFC/RAF in WW1 would honor a claim for an enemy a/c "driven down out of control". The "out of control" part, of course, generally being a matter of some subjectivity, especially when the engagement took place above the cloud layer or in lousy visibility. Since the lion's share of action occurred over German-controlled airspace, confirmation of such "kills" were rare.


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